Saturday, June 25, 2011

Easter Babka

Babka is an item I used to love having from the bakery by my Grandma’s house as a kid.  I remembered the cherry flavor and every once and awhile a chocolate chip, but cherry was always my favorite.  So the Babka went on the “to make list!”  Little did I know that when I started the search for “THE” Babka I’d like to make, they would be nothing like I remembered as a kid!  I consulted my mom to confirm these recipes and was informed there is also a Jewish style Babka that is often chocolate and that she remembered a yeast Babka that my Grandma would make with raisins. 

When I realized we would be making the trip home to Michigan for Easter I knew I needed to make a Babka, because in my babka research I found out it was typical a Polish Easter bread!  After much deliberation on the all the recipes to try I decided on this chocolate and cheese babka, even if it is much different than my childhood memory!

I made a few mistakes in making this Babka, I started too late in the evening!  After making the dough and letting it rise the bread didn’t go into the oven until way too late! Make sure you plan enough time, because this is a time consuming process, but well worth it!  Also, if I were to make it again I’d use much more of the cheese filling, the filling got lost (you can barely see it in the picture!).

1/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 package yeast (2 tsp)
3 whole eggs
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup warm milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
4-5 cups flour
For chocolate filling:
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs cream
1/2 brick cream cheese (reduced fat is fine)
For cheese filling:
1/2 brick cream cheese (reduced fat is fine)
1 egg
zest from 1 lemon

1. Dissolve 1 tsp sugar in warm water. Add yeast and let stand for 10 minutes. The mixture should bubble up and look doughy.
2. Beat the eggs and yolks until light and fluffy. Add remaining sugar, and beat for another minute. Stir in the butter, milk, salt, vanilla, and yeast mixture.
3. Mix in 4 cups of the flour, and then add additional flour 1/4 up at a time, until smooth dough is formed.
4. Knead for 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.  I used the dough hook on my mixer for most of this and then only did it by hand for just a few minutes.
5.  Place in a bowl, cover, and let rest in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let rise a second time.
6. Melt the chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in the cream and keep warm.
7. In a separate bowl, combine the cream cheese, egg, and lemon zest.
8. Divide the dough in half. Roll one half into a large rectangle, about 1/2-inch thick.
9. Spread the rectangle with the chocolate mixture, then roll jelly roll style, starting with the long edge.
10. Repeat with the remaining dough, filling with the cheese mixture.
11. Twist the two rolls around each other like a braid, and arrange in a bundt or tube pan. The dough should fill the pan about 3/4 of the way.
12. Cover and let rise for one hour.
13. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when you tap on it.
Serves 20.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

S'more Bars

These bars were made for a Memorial Day party.  When I saw them I knew they would be perfect for a cook out.  We decided to leave out the nuts because we weren’t sure that everyone liked peanuts.  Also peanuts didn’t seem like they have a place in a s’more bar.  However, I do think the saltiness and the crunch would bring a lot to these bars so try it and let me know! 

2¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
7½ ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped (More or less just make sure chocolate is 5 oz total)
7½ ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped More or less just make sure chocolate is 5 oz total)
1½ teaspoons light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
10 marshmallows, cut into quarters
½ cup lightly salted whole peanuts  (OPTIONAL)
½ cup chopped lightly salted peanuts (OPTIONAL)

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan or spray it with nonstick cooking spray.  (With all the butter in the crust I’m not sure this is totally necessary)
2. In a large bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar. Add the butter. Combine the mixture and turn it out into the prepared pan. Press the crust into an even layer along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
3. Bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack.  (I had to bake it for about 20-25 minutes because the crust was still very soft).
4. In a large heatproof bowl, toss the chocolates together. Drizzle the corn syrup over the chocolate and set aside.
5. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream just to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour the cream over the chocolate mixture. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Starting in the center of the bowl and working your way out to the edges, whisk the chocolate mixture in a circle until completely smooth. Fold in the marshmallows and the whole peanuts. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to spread it as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the top with the chopped peanuts.
6. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until set. Cut into squares and serve. The bars will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.
(Recipe adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cookie Dough Dip

Eating cookie dough is the best part of making cookies!  I was waiting for some type of event to make this dip, because I knew if I made it just because I’d eat it all.  I have a weakness for cookie dough.  Be prepared to love it and want to eat all of it.  It is not identical to cookie dough because of the slight cream cheese flavor, but it’s similar enough.  I served this dip with graham crackers and pretzel sticks.    

Makes about 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 8-ounce block of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cups chocolate chips

Melt butter on medium heat. Add brown sugar and whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to slowly bubble. Set aside to cool, and whisk in vanilla.
Using a mixer cream the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth (make sure its not lumpy or you will have lumps in your final mixture). With mixer on low speed, add in brown sugar and butter mixture. Mix until combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Chill until ready to serve!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie

I’m really behind on posts!  I made this way back in May for a special family birthday.  It was a special request from my mother-in-law.  I had never made a peanut butter pie, so when I found this recipe I had to try it because it was garnished with peanut butter cups!  Who can pass up peanut butter and chocolate?  Not me! 

9 oz chocolate wafer cookies (I used some chocolate animal crackers)
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled to room temp
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325.
In a food processor, finely grind the cookies and bittersweet chocolate.
Add the butter and pulse until well incorporated and moist clumps form
Transfer to a 9-inch tart pan (or pie tin) with a removable bottom. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and up the side.
Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Cool completely.
Beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
In another bowl, beat 1 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks are formed. Gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture until combined.
Spoon the peanut butter mixture into the cooled crust. Place the tart in the fridge to set while making the topping.
Place the semisweet chocolate, 1 Tbsp butter, and remaining cream in a heatproof bowl. Microwave in 30 second bursts until hot. Whisk until smooth.
Pour the chocolate evenly over the tart. Garnish with chopped peanut butter cups.
Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

Adapted from Simply Suppers, by Jennifer Chandler

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June Daring Cooks Challenge: Healthy Potato Salad

We have had a busy the last few months and haven't participated in the last few Daring Cooks or Daring Baker challenges.  This months challenge was something I wanted to make sure we were able to participate in. When I saw the Daring Cooks challenge was a healthier potato salad and we were allowed to be creative and do our own thing, I knew it was time to challenge D.  We were going to have a potato salad throw down or Iron Chef.. POTATO SALAD.... either challenge would do!

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

My potato salad was going to feature sweet potatoes and a vinegar based dressing.  Here is what I used.

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes
4 green onions- white and green parts
3 oz colored peppers
Some Agave nectar
2 TBS Chili pepper paste
2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Onion powder
¼ cup vinegar
Zest of lime, orange, lemon
Juice of lime, half orange, half lemon

First I cut up the sweet potatoes and placed on a baking sheet to roast in a 450 deg oven. I'm too lazy to peel a sweet potato when roasting it, so go ahead save some time and leave the peel on (Thanks Sara for notifying me that it was ok to leave the peel on!).  

While the potatoes were roasting I cut the green onions, peppers, zested the citrus, and mixed up the sauce with the spices.

As soon as the potatoes came out of the oven I poured over the sauce.  It is best when making a vinegar based potato salad to dress the potatoes when they are hot so they absorb the vinegar.  I then put the salad in the fridge until it was chilled and ready to eat!

Now for the calorie count.. mine was a total of 630 calories for the whole batch!!

Derek’s potato salad was going to be a creamy dill sauce.  Here is what he used:

Bag of small red potatoes
5 Green onions
1 container Greek yogurt
A ton of fresh dill
½ packet ranch dressing seasoning

First D cut his potatoes and decided since the smoker was on he was going to smoke his potatoes to cook them.  He sprayed them with some olive oil and added some minced garlic.

Meanwhile, he mixed together the Greek yogurt, ranch mix, and fresh dill.

Once the potatoes came out he chilled them before dressing the potatoes and mixing in the green onion. D's potato salad had a total calorie count of 765.

Both of these potato salads served a bunch!  So the calorie counts turned out great!  Now for the taste test..  D and I both agreed mine were better.  The smoked taste of D's potatoes would have been great served warm, but it slightly overpowered the potato salad and it also prevented the dressing from soaking into the potatoes.